For the first time in almost 40 years, a total eclipse will occur over the mainland of the United States, on August 21, 2017. A total eclipse hasn’t been viewed from anywhere in the continental United States since February 1979; or crossed through, coast to coast, since 1918.
What is a total eclipse?
A total eclipse is when the moon will totally block the light from the sun for a short period of time, in its arc of travel. It happens periodically around the world, but this upcoming eclipse is something unique, because it will be visible in it’s entirety from 14 states across the country. This solar black-out will have a 70 mile-wide range stretching from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. The rest of the states are not excluded from this celestial phenomenon, but will only be able to see a partial eclipse. For best visibility in the Path of Totality, check out this map.
You can also check out this link to find out what you’ll be able to see from your own zip code. If you’re really curious, try a few different zip codes for fun!
Important tips for the 2017 Great American Eclipse:
Make sure you have safety glasses to view the eclipse. The only safe way to look directly at the sun is with special solar filters. It is only safe to view the eclipse for the brief minutes that the moon is 100% covering the sun. Make sure to learn how to protect your eyes because Eclipse Blindness is a real thing! https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters
Travel— Approximately 2/3rds of the population in the US (some 200 million or so people) live within a day’s drive to somewhere along the Path of Totality. Millions will be traveling to witness this amazing event. Being that this star-crossing sensation is happening during the hottest part of summer, use precaution, and take a little extra time to prepare for any number of potential roadside emergencies. Go through a vehicle maintenance checklist to ensure all fluids are topped off. Also make sure your brake and headlights are working, air conditioning/heat, and windshield wipers are ready for use. Make sure to check and fill all tires to meet factory specifications. Besides a spare tire, carry an emergency kit in your car, including jumper cables, flares, cell phone chargers, water, and extra food. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop16085/index.htm
Children and Pets
If you’re traveling with children and pets, it’s vitally important that you remember that they are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. Never leave them in a car alone, for any duration of time. Carry extra water and plan on making a few extra stops.
Many states have suspended road construction projects along the Path of Totality to accommodate the influx of recreational travelers. There are several events and locations on the pathway. Expect crowds and there may be traffic congestion in areas that seldom have visitors otherwise. Be patient, obey the rules of the road, and be cautious of any pedestrians near roadways.
Keep any valuables with you or out of sight, like in your trunk, when leaving your vehicle. Do some research on the area you’re visiting and follow all travel advisories and warnings.